Today Susan of Practical Inspirations knows what it's like when holiday traditions clash. She shares wonderfully practical advice for melding your holiday traditions and keeping the peace in your home.
So Many Family Traditions
The holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing through New Year’s Day, was an event in my family. For my husband … not so much. My family didn’t put most packages under the tree until the evening of Christmas Eve. My husband’s family opened some gifts on Christmas Eve. Our family went to a candlelight church service. My husband’s family didn’t attend church.
For some people, these might be irreconcilable differences. Holiday traditions can be so rooted in our families we can’t imagine anything different. Some customs can go back through generations. Many of us can’t imagine a Thanksgiving or Christmas without our beloved practices.
How to Meld Holiday Traditions
When two families come together, though, not all traditions mesh together easily. Some can even be in conflict with each other. Each family needs to determine what stays and what to let go of.
- What's Tradition? Begin with determining if any of the traditions have family roots or part of a cultural heritage. We may want to keep these to pass on family culture or history.
- What's Faith? The next place to look is our faith traditions. Some generational customs are based on religious beliefs. Even within the Christian church, there may be different beliefs that may determine how or why a tradition is celebrated. These customs may be important to passing our faith onto our children and grandchildren.
- What's Left? Then look at what’s left. Determine why some of the traditions came about. My husband’s family opened some gifts on Christmas Eve because one parent had to work on Christmas Day. This allowed for a family gift-sharing time. It wasn’t something that needed to be passed on to the next generation. Some of the non-cultural or non-religious traditions may just be fun and worth hanging keeping, even if there’s no special significance.
- What's Ours? Finally, create new traditions. These may be something completely different than ever done before. A friend’s family started a tradition of a family Christmas breakfast rather than a Christmas dinner. They have breakfast at a different family member’s home each year and no one has to host an elaborate dinner on a hectic day. This tradition also makes it possible for the grandchildren to visit both sets of grandparents on Christmas Day.
The holiday season should be a time of peace and rest for individuals as well as the family. Clashing over traditions needn’t put a damper of the joy. When worship of Jesus is kept at the center, old and new traditions can blend together for a pleasant and warm family time.
Need a New Family Christmas Tradition?
When she’s not tending chickens, peacocks, and donkeys, Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Her books include Science in the Kitchen and Preschool: At What Cost? plus the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. You can learn more at her website www.practicalinspirations.com.